Ezekiel Elliott was held in check Thursday night, not just by the Buccaneers Chris Blair Jersey ' defense but also by his head coach.Mike McCarthy opted not to give his top running back many touches in . Elliott had just 11 carries the second-lowest total ofhis five-season NFL career despite the Cowboys running 77 total plays.Elliott averaged 16.3 carries per game last season in McCarthy's first year with Dallas. He never had fewer than 12 carries in his 15 games.Naturally, that led many people to askwhy Elliott got so little work in Week 1 of 2021. The answer turned out to be simple.NFL WEEK 1 PICKS: | Why did Ezekiel Elliott only get 11 carries vs. the Buccaneers?Elliott didn't get the ball much because of matchups. McCarthy said that to NBC's broadcast after Elliott, Tony Pollard and Dak Prescott combined for just seven first-half carries.On limited carries by Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, Mike McCarthy says is a result of defensive matchups we are seeing per the TV broadcast. Brianna Dix (@DixBrianna) Tampa Bay has had the NFL's No. 1-ranked run defense in back-to-back seasons. It allowed 82.7 rushing yards per game last season and73.8 rushing yards per game in 2019. McCarthy avoided running the ball and tried instead to take advantage of the Buccaneers' secondary.That secondary wound up having to deal with multiple Yosh Nijman Jersey injury i sues Thursday night. Starting safety Jordan Whitehead (hamstring) was inactive. Starting cornerback in the first half. Mike Edwards who started in place of Whitehead had to mi s time because of cramping.The Cowboys have a strong pa sing game and one of the Green Bay Packers Hats NFL's best three-man receiver combinations in Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. That was the better matchup for the Cowboys, so McCarthy let Prescott throw the ball 56 times. Elliott caught two pa ses for 6 yards, to go with his 33 rushing yards.IYER: McCarthy also schemed short pa ses to the outside to generate easy pitch-and-catch options. The Cowboys e sentially used the screen game and swing pa ses to replace the running game. That allowed the team to get its playmakers in spacewhile avoiding running up the middle against the likes of Ndamukong Suh (307 pounds)and Vita Vea (346 pounds).McCarthy's game plan worked. The Cowboys racked up 451 yards of offense and puntedjust three times in 13 drives.MORE: What Ezekiel Elliott said about Mike McCarthy's game planElliott echoed McCarthy after the game by saying that he saw fewer carries because of the Bucs' run defense, but he was noncommittal when asked whether this pa s-heavy game plan was an aberration."You know, the game goes however it goes," . "I was out there Josh Myers Jersey to play out there to do my best every play. So, I mean, I don't know."Elliott certainly has a role to play with Dallas regardle s of how many carries he gets. Against Tampa Bay, he was a key pa s protector andhad a handful of blitz pickups that allowed Prescott to get the ball downfield.And Elliott seems optimistic about the Cowboys' offensedespite Thursday's results."It's great to get back out there," he said. "I think we did a great job going out therecompeting. Defense did a great job going out there and taking the ball away. Offense did a Dennis Kelly Jersey great job of going out there and scoring. We just fell short but, you know, I like where we're at right now. We're going to get better."